Hospitals Close Emergency Departments, Maternity Wards Over Staffing Shortages

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Some hospitals in the United States have closed or plan to shutter parts of their facilities because of staffing shortages.

Three urgent care centers in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area have been closed temporarily because of the surge in COVID-19 cases and a lack of staff, Advocate Aurora Health, which runs the centers, confirmed in an email to The Epoch Times.

“This allows those team members to be deployed to busier urgent cares in the area. All other non-urgent care services offered at these three facilities are currently open,” the company said. The facilities are in Menomonee Falls, Brookfield, and on River Center Drive in Milwaukee.

University Hospitals Lake Health confirmed that it shuttered an emergency department it runs at the UH Madison Health Center in Ohio, citing a review of current staffing levels, bed availability, and trends in COVID-19 hospitalizations. The company recently decided to extend the temporary closure.

“We will continue to assess our staffing needs across the system and use that as a guide for the return of emergency department services at the UH Madison Health Center,” the company said in an emailed statement.

Mercyhealth plans to end outpatient services at one of its hospitals in Rockford, Illinois, and inpatient services at another nearby hospital, which will likely take about a year to follow state regulations.

As part of the plan, Mercyhealth last month stopped accepting inpatient admissions at the Javon Bea Hospital–Riverside location.

“Given the severe nursing and health care staffing shortages right now, it doesn’t make sense to continue down our current course. Realigning services across our one hospital license, located between two campuses, allows us to provide a more robust outpatient facility at Rockton and expand our inpatient campus at Riverside. We will still be able to care for the same number of people, and no jobs will be lost as a result of these changes, which will allow us to better utilize our staff to best meet our patients’ needs,” Javon Bea, president and CEO of Mercyhealth, said in a statement.

Geary Community Hospital in Junction City, Kansas, is poised to close its intensive care unit by Feb. 1.

LJ Baker, director of human resources and external relations, said in a press release that the move is “due to a nation COVID-19 exacerbated nursing shortage, as well as fiscal situations beyond our control.”

The emergency department at Springfield Hospital in Springfield Township, Pennsylvania, was shut down starting Friday. Crozier Health, which runs the facility, said in a statement the closure is temporary and stemmed from staffing issues.

“Our patient care resources have been strained due to the national nursing shortage and many colleagues out sick with COVID-19, echoing the challenges faced by other health systems locally and across the country. Therefore, we need to reallocate resources to other locations throughout the system to continue providing safe, high-quality care to our patients,” Peter Adamo, Crozier Health’s CEO, said in a statement.

Other facilities that have either been closed or companies plan to close include the maternity ward at Pulaski Memorial Hospital in Indiana. Health care systems elsewhere have cut beds or services because of staffing issues.

Hundreds of hospitals across the United States were experiencing “critical” staffing shortages on Jan. 15, according to data reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The systems that shuttered departments or units blamed COVID-19 infections for the shortages, but some health care officials in recent months have said COVID-19 vaccine mandates have led or would lead to trouble keeping workers and filling vacancies.

A group of states that sued President Joe Biden’s administration last year over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers at facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding asserted that letting the mandate take effect would “exacerbate an alarming shortage of healthcare workers, particularly in rural communities, that has already reached a crisis point.”

Stays preventing the mandate from taking effect were lifted by the Supreme Court on Thursday, with a narrow majority of Justices finding the government has the authority to impose such a rule.

Some state mandates took effect last year, leading to the termination of workers and other employees quitting, and the curbing of services such as delivering babies.

Zachary Stieber

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Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.



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